The refrain from Jon Daniels on Monday, in light of the revelation that his promotion to president of baseball operations has led Nolan Ryan to consider leaving the Texas Rangers, was the same as it was Friday when he received his new title.
“I report to Nolan,” Daniels said.
Confusion appears to be reigning on several levels at the Surprise Recreation Campus, where a Star-Telegram report that Ryan could be gone by the end of spring training had spread through the front office and was slowly making its way through the clubhouse.
Inquiring minds wanted to know why owners Bob Simpson and Ray Davis would do anything to jeopardize Ryan’s future in Arlington, and who conveyed to them that reducing Ryan’s role was best for the ballclub.
Others, including Ryan, are wondering what his role is after Daniels was promoted, along with Rick George becoming president of business operations, while Ryan was stripped of the team president title and is now simply the club’s CEO.
Many fingers, both in the desert and across Metroplex airwaves, are pointed at Daniels, and all are reluctant to speak on the subject. But Daniels said that he has had daily conversations with Ryan about the ballclub and one conversation Saturday morning to clear the air after word of Ryan’s discontent and possible departure were first reported.
“He has not expressed that to me,” Daniels said. “Nolan and I are talking regularly about baseball.”
Ryan was hired by former owner Tom Hicks to be team president in 2008, ahead of Daniels’ third season as general manager, and to oversee business and baseball operations.
There were some instances where Daniels and Hicks spoke without going through Ryan, which were alleviated when Hicks established a hierarchy with Ryan at the top of the company power structure.
It has remained that way since, with the exception of Chuck Greenberg’s short stint as CEO shortly after Simpson and Davis backed the Greenberg-Ryan bid to buy the Rangers out of bankruptcy in 2010.
Through it all, said Daniels, he and Ryan have maintained a working relationship that has strengthened over the years.
“I think it’s grown,” Daniels said. “We’re from different backgrounds and different perspectives, but there’s a mutual respect. We don’t always agree, but I think that’s a healthy thing. You’d be hard-pressed to find two people who always do.”
But Ryan is sensing uncertainty now, according to sources, and is strongly considering leaving the club. That notion had several players raising their eyebrows and wondering what was going on behind the scenes.
They see Ryan as a key contributor to the Rangers’ rise from last place in 2007 to two American League West titles, three second-place finishes, three straight playoff appearances and the first AL championships in franchise history in 2010 and 2011.
“He’s been a large part of it,” left fielder David Murphy said. “He’s helped to change our pitching philosophy, which has helped to change our success on the field. The success of the franchise has done nothing but go up since he’s been here.”
Second baseman Ian Kinsler, who signed a multiyear contract extension in April, said that Ryan brings credibility to the franchise and has helped attract key free agents to join the team.
Ryan was part of the recruitment of closer Joe Nathan in November 2011 and Yu Darvish over the next two months.
“I would love to have him around for as long as I’m here and as long as he’d like to be here,” Kinsler said.
“It’s mostly respect. People in other organizations automatically respect his résumé, whether it’s inside the game or outside the game. He brings all that to the table in Texas, which I think is even a bigger deal. It’s nice to have that around, and I don’t know if there’s another person who could have the same impact on this organization.”